Former champions Abel Kirui, Dickson Chumba and Florence Kiplagat have thrown down the gauntlet to their rivals for Sunday’s Chicago Marathon that starts 5.15pm Kenyan time.
Both Kirui, the two times World Marathon champion, and Chumba are eyeing their second success in the windy United States city after their exploits in 2016 and 2015 while the 2010 World Half Marathon champion Florence Kiplagat targets a hat-trick of victories.
Other Kenyans who are also in the mix in the men’s race are World marathon champion Geoffrey Kirui, who is also the 2017 Boston Marathon champion, the 2016 New York City Marathon champion Stephen Sambu and Paris Marathon winner Paul Lonyangata.
Also in the race are Bedan Karoki, who finished fifth at this year’s London Marathon, Bernard Kipyego, Kenneth Kipkemoi and debutante Augustine Choge.
The Kenyans will face, among others, defending champion Galen Rupp of the USA, six-time world champion and four-time Olympic gold medallist Mo Farah and Ethiopians Mosinet Geremew and Birhanu Legese.
In the women’s race, Kiplagat is out to reclaim the title she won back to back in 2015 and 2016. She will face compatriot Brigid Kosgei, who finished second in Chicago last year.
Rupp became the first American to win in Chicago in 15 years with a time of 2:09:20.
Kirui won the world title back in 2009 and retained it in 2011 before getting Olympic silver in 2012.
The 36-year-old Kenyan has remained hugely competitive, though. He won the 2016 Chicago Marathon, finished second last year, and placed fourth at the 2017 and 2018 London marathons.
Chumba, who finished third in 2014 London with a personal best of 2:04:32 in a race won by Eliud Kipchoge, finally claimed victory in 2015 but relinquished the title to Kirui in 2016, finishing second.
Early this year, Chumba won the Tokyo Marathon for the second time in his career, clocking 2:05:30, his second-fastest run.
Geoffrey Kirui enjoyed a stellar 2017, winning the world title in London four months after his Boston Marathon victory.
He might not have competed since finishing second in Boston earlier this year, but his experience will count.
Kipkemoi and Kipyego are two of the nine men in the field with sub-2:07 PBs.
Kipkemoi won in Rotterdam earlier this year in 2:05:44 in just his second marathon, while two-time Amsterdam winner Kipyego has considerably more experience at the distance.
Karoki, the 2016 World Half Marathon silver medallist, finished third at last year’s London Marathon where he was making his debut over the distance before a fifth-place at the same race this year. He won RAK Half Marathon in a superb time of 58:42 just before heading to London.
Choge will be making his highly anticipated marathon debut. The 31-year-old has represented Kenya on track and cross country.
Choge, winner of the 2006 Commonwealth 5000m title, has moved up in distance in recent years, clocking 59:26 for the half marathon in 2017.
After finishing second in Chicago last year, Kosgey went on to win the Honolulu Marathon in 2:22:15, taking more than five minutes off the course record, and she finished second in London earlier this year in a PB of 2:20:13.
Her most recent performance was a 1:07:52 effort at the Great North Run, finishing a close second to London Marathon champion Vivian Cheruiyot.
Mosinet Geremew (ETH) 2:04:00
Birhanu Legese (ETH) 2:04:15
Dickson Chumba (KEN) 2:04:32
Kenneth Kipkemoi (KEN) 2:05:44
Bernard Kipyego (KEN) 2:06:19
Geoffrey Kirui (KEN) 2:06:27
Suguru Osako (JPN) 2:07:19
Bedan Karoki (KEN) 2:07:41
Yuki Kawauchi (JPN) 2:08:14
Mohamed Reda (MAR) 2:09:18
Stephen Sambu (KEN) 2:11:07
Elkanah Kibet (USA) 2:11:31
Tyler McCandless (USA) 2:12:28
Aaron Braun (USA) 2:12:54
Kiya Dandena (USA) 2:12:56
Augustine Choge (KEN) debut
Roza Dereje (ETH) 2:19:17
Florence Kiplagat (KEN) 2:19:44
Birhane Dibaba (ETH) 2:19:51
Brigid Kosgei (KEN) 2:20:13
Shure Demise (ETH) 2:20:59
Laura Thweatt (USA) 2:25:38
Alyson Dixon (GBR) 2:29:06
Jessica Draskau Petersson (DEN) 2:30:07
Vianey De la Rosa (MEX) 2:32:01
Veronicah Nyaruai (KEN) 2:32:06
Sarah Crouch (USA) 2:32:44
Taylor Ward (USA) 2:35:27
Dayna Pidhoresky (CAN) 2:36:08
Hiruni Wijayaratne (SRI) 2:36:35
Gwen Jorgensen (USA) 2:41:01